Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India SCFI
Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi on 12th September 2018

History of Ganesh Chaturthi

It is believed that the birth of the elephant headed deity; Ganesh took place on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the waxing moon period in the lunar month of Magh according to the Hindu religion. Since then, an association has developed between Chaturthi and Ganesh. As a result, the worship of Ganesh on the fourth month (Chaturthi) is known as Ganesh Chaturthi.The history of Ganesh Chaturthi dates back to the Peshwa Empire or the dynasties of Rashtrakuta, Satavahana etc.

The history of Ganesh Chaturthi can be traced back to the dynasties of Chalukya, Satavahana and Rashtrakuta. This festival was initiated by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire. According to historical sources, the Peshwas motivated the worship and celebration of this festival as a state affair. Lord Ganesh was a family God of the Peshwas. With the downfall of the Peshwa Empire, the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi was limited to homes and was no longer patronized as a state affair. This happened between the periods of 1818 to 1892.

Sepoy Mutiny took place in the year 1857 which was a hallmark in the Indian history of struggle for independence. Many freedom fighters joined hands to put up a stubborn resistance against the pre-eminence of the British Empire. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, popularly referred to as” Lokmanya”, was among the illustrious freedom fighter; who revived the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi as a public affair. He used this festival as a device to unite the Indians and attain their support in the struggle for freedom. He gave a whole new meaning to the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

The history of Ganesh Chaturthi dates back to the Peshwa Empire when this festival was celebrated only by the upper class but Lokmanya Tilak popularized it as a festival of the masses and people of all strata of the society joined in. He realized the economic importance of this festival and in 1893; he reshaped this festival into an all nation huge celebration. The festivities involved theatrical performances, dance dramas, debates, musical concerts and poetry recitals where Indians from all class and caste participated and this was the incipient stage of developing unity among the Indians so that they could jointly put up a tough struggle against the supremacy of the British. From then onwards, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated not only in Maharashtra but nationwide with splendour and grandeur. Ganesh Chaturthi was declared a nationwide festival after India gained independence in 1947.

Today this festival is celebrated in Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu with the same vigour and enthusiasm as in Maharashtra. This ten day festival employs the earnest efforts of a large number of people including the artisans, pandal organizers, decorators, artists and so on. Painstakingly the artists create huge, spectacular Ganesh idols. By observing all the rituals strictly, chanting devotional slokas and songs, the worship of Lord Ganesh takes place. Duration of the festival varies from place to place. After ten days, in magnificent processions, the idols are immersed into the holy rivers. These processions are followed by millions of people dancing, singing, bursting crackers and shouting out” Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudcha Varshi Laukar Ya", which means pleading the deity for good luck and fortune to return the next year, when he arrives again.

Thus to sum up, the history of Ganesh Chaturthi dates back to the dynasty of the Peshwas and this festival was initiated by the great warrior,Maratha king, Chhatrapati Shivaji and later revived by the pre-eminent freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

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